The Road to El Paso
Updated: Jan 4, 2020
Something sort of amazing happened once I hit the road. The weight of all my things pressed the top of my car down over the shock and completely muffled it’s noise! Driving on a smooth interstate also helped.
I had all the makings for the perfect road trip- snacks, music, fresh air for my hand to surf, and working AC. It was August after all. I had all day to bask in the glory of everything I had accomplished in the past few months that led up to this day. I was wide awake.
I don’t remember all the details of that trip. I remember the feeling though. The one detail I do remember vividly is Oklahoma. I hit Oklahoma at the golden hour. A beautiful American country side with golden rays showering everything it touched. The AC was off and the windows down letting in the late summer air. I knew how lucky I was to live in my country exercising my freedom and right to pursue my own happiness. It was liberation finding out that my life and choices were my own responsibility and that no matter what was to come I could handle it.
I made it to Dallas around 12:30 am. I spent a couple days there before my friend offered to ride along with me the rest of the way to Arizona. He would then fly back. I was grateful for his company. And now looking back on the happenings of what was to come my gratitude has grown 10 fold.
After that 14 hour trip and then my car resting for a couple days when it came time to turn it on one of the engines belts shrieked in discomfort and the turd decided it would shriek the entire trip. It didn’t sound good. We were about to drive across Texas, New Mexico and Arizona (a two day trip) in the middle of August (temps soaring to 120 degrees F). Both of us concerned that we could be dooming ourselves to becoming stranded in the blistering heat in the middle of nowhere. At least, I wasn’t doing it alone. John’s presence was a gift I will always cherish. We fueled up and headed out. As soon as we hit the interstate the heat of the day started to set in so we rolled up the windows and went to turn on the AC. No AC. We both looked bewildered.
Looks like we won’t have that for this trip. We continued on through the day with the windows down as the temperature continued to climb. Flying down a Texas interstate with the windows open is like constantly catching the devils hot farts at 90 miles an hour. I’d prefer a hair dryer blowing in my face. It was unbearable on so many levels. We definitely couldn’t talk much or share stories to ease the pain because we couldn’t hear one another over the sound of the wind. The effort it took to project our voices stole too much energy, and we tried our best to conserve that because the heat was zapping the rest of it.
We continued to stop as needed for gas and water. Each time we turned the car off a little piece of me thought she’d never turn back on. Both of us holding our breath and then letting out the smallest sigh of relief as to not let the other know we were concerned in the first place. The vast void of Texas became clearer as the gas stations became further and much much further apart. I could see how people could die out here. All that existed out here was a landscape of scratchy brush, dust, and fields of scattered pump-jacks over oil wells. Every slow and sad pump a reminder of their eternal laboring in the hot pits of hell as we passed through. The stations became so far apart we decided to stock pile our water and gator-aid supply to last until the next one. But about 30 minutes back on the road whatever stock pile we had had already become boiling hot and un-drinkable. The next stop we had both become delirious. I remember getting out of the car dizzy and foggy and feeling like I was every western movie cliche of the cowboy that’s been wondering in the Mexican desert for days only to finally reach a saloon, and through crusty lips and a raspy voice beg for water. If there had been a horse trough out front I would have heaved myself into it. We walked into the station looking like crazy eyed drug addicts as we rummaged for liquid. I even forgot at one time why I was there as I found myself just wandering the isles zombie-like. John had thrown him self into one of the upright freezers and was already chugging a bottle of water. We managed to revive ourselves enough before getting back onto the road. We still had hundreds of miles to go before we reached El Paso. Every now and then we would pass by run down trailers and I would think about who lived out here in this land. Man camps were common. Those are towns made of large tents and temporary structures that house the hardened men who work the oil rigs. I imagined that if I had made this trip alone and had broken down on the side of the road I might have disappeared into one of those camps forever. Thoughts of the movie Texas Chainsaw Massacre accompanied me the rest of the way to El Paso. It didn’t seem like such a far fetched plot after all.
We reached El Paso by evening. El Paso was a trippy place all in itself. Two cities separated by a chain link fence at the base of a mountain range. El Paso on the US side and Juarez, Mexico on the other. Juarez is full of horror stories of violence and drug cartels. As you drive along the border you shutter at your own misunderstandings and the horrible things that humanity has to endure. A few days ago I was a wind surfing and blasting freebird on the radio, and now I’m clenched up and breathing shallow looking across a fence at the lives of others with less fortunate conditions. I didn’t know if I had really found liberation or not. How can I be so liberated when others are not? I was humbled by the reality check. to be continued...
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